St. Helens cruised to their second win of the season against Leeds at Headingley in a 31-18 victory.
The Rhinos improved on their performance earlier in the year after being humbled 46-6 by Saints at Langtree Park in Round 8 but, despite going 12-4 up, Saints proved too strong and eased to victory in the second half.
Man of the Match Jonny Lomax notched 17 points on the night with a brace, four goals and a drop goal as, similarly to the game earlier in the season, Leeds struggled to make ground in attack and looked, at times, shaky in defence.
The game was a big milestone for Rugby League as Super League held it's first Monday night fixture, and it was well received by an almost full house at Headingley.
McGuire put the Rhinos ahead after a well-executed set piece from a scrum. Gary Wheeler knocked the ball on inside his half giving Leeds possession. The ball was shipped out left to Brent Webb who dragged Jonny Lomax and Tommy Makinson outside, he then gave the ball to Ryan Hall on the sideline who passed inside to McGuire. Kevin Sinfield kicked the conversion and with it his 3,001st point for the Rhinos.
With their next possession the Saints forced an error from Webb who knocked on as he tried to collect a bomb under the sticks, but Josh Perry knocked on as Saints got the ball back ending their attack.
Lomax hit back with a strong solo effort under the posts. The youngster grabbed his fourth try in as many games after collecting Lance Hohaia’s chip over the top which Leeds failed to deal with and he muscled his way through Webb and Ian Smith to plant the ball on the line.
Leeds struggled to find openings in attack as they made crucial mistakes just before the line, McGuire knocked-on on two occasions inside Saints’ 20 metres.
Saints were ahead on the 30 minute mark thanks to Paul Wellens. James Roby broke the line with a trademark run and passed inside to Lomax who was brought down by Kallum Watkins but he passed again to Wellens who was running in support and he dived over for the try.
Francis Meli came close in the corner but was forced in to touch by four blue and yellow shirts just metres from the line.
Brett Delaney put the Rhinos back into the game just before half time after another set move from Leeds. Zak Hardaker won a penalty in his own half after being held down by Makinson and Leeds took full advantage. The ball was spread to the right where Sinfield broke the line, he passed inside to Delaney who was left unmarked to run to the line.
After withstanding a Saints attack Leeds drew first blood in the second half through Jamie Jones-Buchanan. The Rhinos worked the ball to Saints’ 40, Webb took the ball from Burrow and passed inside to Jones-Buchanan who shrugged off a tackle and ran 20 metres for the easy score.
Makinson scored immediately for Saints in the corner to pull them to within two points. The winger found some space on the touchline after some nice footwork from Michael Shenton and dived for the line, he took a big hit from Webb as he reached to plant the ball down but he managed to score just before he was bumped into touch.
Lomax grabbed a second try after a superb one-two with Soliola. Saints were on the 20 metre line on the last tackle but Lomax popped the ball to Iosia Soliola who found a huge gap in Leeds’ defence, he passed it back inside to the half back who dived over the line.
Makinson was stretchered off on 62 minutes after being knocked out by an accidental swinging arm from Sinfield. It was confirmed that he sustained a neck injury and was taken to hospital in Leeds for his injury.
Saints extended their advantage through Jon Wilkin. Perry forced his way inside the five metre line and Roby played the ball to Wilkin who crashed over the line.
Lomax kicked his fourth goal of the night from a penalty won by Laffranchi after the ball was stripped by two men in the tackle. He added another point with a drop goal in the last five minutes to secure the win for Saints.
Leeds lie in eighth after tonight's defeat and Saints pulled away from the Bradford Bulls to sixth, just two points behind Hull FC.
Both teams play their local rivals in the Bulls and Wigan Warriors this weekend at the annual Magic Weekend held in Manchester City's Etihad Stadium.
Leeds: Webb, Smith, Watkins, Hardaker, Hall; Sinfield, McGuire; Leuluai, Burrow, Peacock, Jones-Buchanan, Ablett.
Replacements: Bailey, Clarkson, Griffin, Lunt.
T: McGuire, Delaney, Jones-Buchanan
G: Sinfield 3
Saints: Wellens, Makinson, Shenton, Wheeler, Meli; Hohaia, Lomax; Perry, Roby, Laffranchi, Flannery, Soliola, Wilkin
Replacements: McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Puletua, Clough, Flanagan
T: Lomax 2, Wellens, Makinson, Wilkin
G: Lomax 4, Makinson 1
DG: Lomax 1
Referee: Steve Ganson
RLFANS Man of the Match: Jonny Lomax (St Helens)